Until recently it has always been understood that an English Divorce Court could not make a Pension Sharing Order over a pension based outside the United Kingdom. The Court of Appeal in the case of Goyal v Goyal, a case involving an Indian pension, has just confirmed that this is not the case and that at least in theory an order over a foreign pension can be made.
This could be of major significance where, for example the spouse with the pension works for a company based outside the UK with a non-UK pension scheme. It will now be possible to obtain a pension sharing order offering the dependent spouse much more security than a maintenance order would have done.
It is particularly important to note that a pension sharing order is, in effect, a once and for all solution whereby the pension or part of it is transferred permanently and intervening events such as death or remarriage do not affect it. Maintenance on the other hand is variable and terminates automatically on remarriage or death.
There remain however many real problems in dealing with assets abroad – there are complex rules about enforceability and jurisdictions and certainly if a spouse had the choice between pursuing assets in the UK or those abroad only the foolhardy would choose the latter. Early enquiries would need to be made with the foreign pension scheme to ensure that they would recognise and enforce an English Order but this increase of the reach of the English Courts is generally to be welcomed and offers a further solution in an increasingly international world. Detailed legal and financial advice should be sought in all cases involving pension sharing.
Our family law team advises families across the South West on the best solutions for them. If you would like to get in touch with the team about divorce or any other issue you can telephone 0345 450 5558 or email firstname.lastname@example.org